Q&A with Williams

Gregg Williams' team has surprised a lot of NFL people offensively this season. Here Williams talks about the reputation the team has created it for itself early in the year, plus the close games it has played and the paltry defensive attack against the run.


Q: In the season's early weeks, your Bills have developed a reputation for not being an easy team to beat. What do you think about that?

Gregg Williams: That's good. Those are good things. We hope those are things that put us over the hump at some point. Again we've got to play complete games and get wins out of those things too. There were a lot of things said before the Denver game about the conditioning factor in respect to the altitude. But we weren't worried about the altitude. We're in good shape. Our team played very, very well in terms of conditioning and we played physical against a physical team.

Q: What is the biggest thing that has prevented you from stopping the run early in the year?

GW: People are going to spread us out a bit. That's been the trend in the league right now is that offenses are opening the formations up and not letting you pile in there and making you play in space. And so you got to tackle well in space against teams that want to play finesse run you.

Q: So what's a defense to do, Gregg?

GW: It's a juggling act in matching personnel to what the offense is showing. You can't afford to forget about run stopping. You've got to be able to play run on every personnel package you put out there.

The trend in the league is that offenses are bringing in pass personnel and they're still running the ball effectively.

Q: Drew has been sacked 11 times through three games. That's in the lower-third of the league. What can be done to minimize that?

GW: We're always working on minimizing the hits on the quarterback. He's already said that he's looking for the big play too. He's an intelligent veteran in that respect but he holds the ball a little bit too long. But I trust him. I trust his thought processes right now. He has proven that he can make that play and hold the ball as long as possible because he's developed a trust with our receivers in making big plays and running through some coverages. It's almost a double-edged sword when teams want to commit. I think you'll see before it's over that teams will commit less and less and less people coming after us as we hit more big plays versus some of those pressure situations.

Q: Late in the Denver game, you put Antoine Winfield and Nate Clements in there to cover the kickoffs. Is that something we'll see more of?

GW: I think the big things is dividing the reps up throughout the team and also picking critical times in the ball game where we don't worry about fatigue, and we worry about getting our best tacklers on the field. And both of those guys are our best tacklers. They've proven it game in and game out. Antoine has and so has Nate?

Q: Are you worried about fatigue if they had to play the whole game on kickoffs?

GW: Yes.

Q: Speaking of Antoine and Nate. They were still looking for their first interceptions after three games. Why?

GW: Part of it is the rush and part is playing with the lead. I think our rush is working hand in hand with the coverage. The reason we're able to get some of our sack opportunities is because the coverage has been tight and the offense has been tight and they've elected not to throw into tight coverage.

We haven't had our hands on many opportunities, whereas last year I thought we had opportunities, but we just weren't catching the ball. In this year's secondary, there really hasn't been the opportunity for interceptions on errant throws.

Q: Outside linebackers Keith Newman and Eddie Robinson haven't had a lot of tackles after three games. Is something wrong?

GW: The outside linebackers in this defense are funnel players. If people are attacking the inside of this defense, most of the tackles will go to the middle linebacker and the strong safety and the free safety.

Last year, we talked about our safeties having to be better tacklers. Coy Wire and Pierson Prioleau are pretty good tacklers. They'll always be up there in the stats when our linebackers force those things inside.

I don't want Keith and Eddie sacrificing individual statistics to sacrifice the team defense concept though. They've got to force those runs back inside.

Q: At what point does Travis Henry's fumbling impact his playing time?

GW: Travis has never been a fumbler. It's going to have to be a repeat-type thing that hurts us. I'm confident he'll get it fixed. There has really only been one technique error and that was in the first game against the Jets when he switched hands in traffic. The one in the Vikings game was not his fault. It was a combination of the whole exchange. It wasn't clean. And last week he got one of those big hits that will occasionally happen. But he hasn't had a history of fumbling. I'm sure he'll get it fixed. But we've got good backs here. If it doesn't get fixed, those backs will play.

Q: Keith Newman was playing more as a down lineman vs. Denver. Will we see more of that?

GW: You'll see more of that. We think he has a skill in that and he's been productive for us doing that. And we want to get him more involved. His numbers to date this year are significantly more than we did last year in terms of rushing. Part of that is the flexibility with London Fletcher and Eddie Robinson here. That allows him to do more. Last year we didn't have that flexibility. He had to cover because of our depth at linebacker.

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